Friday, November 29, 2013
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Before beginning this review, I decided to look back at my review of the first Hunger Games film, which you can read here. This look back led me to a grand total of two conclusions... 1. With regard to teen book trilogies being turned into films, my frustration never ceases... 2. My writing really sucked in March of last year! I mean, the movie was mediocre enough. The least I could have done was deliver a memorable review for you guys... Sorry about that! Anywho, after watching the underwhelming Hunger Games, my expectations for its sequel were far from elevated. In fact, I expected things to turn out a lot worse, considering sequels tend to lean in that inferior direction. Plus, why would I just want to watch people fight under the same circumstances of the first film? I haven't read the books, but my bet is that Suzanne Collins was really lacking in originality, when it came time for her to create Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Seriously, Mockingjay is not even an original title! It's a theme throughout! Regardless, I felt it was my duty to check out what I figured to be a duplication of its predecessor...
Unfortunately, Catching Fire's storyline turned out to be The Hangover Part II of YA novels, which is not the fault of the filmmakers. Luckily for Lionsgate, teenagers don't really care about originality, as long as you convince enough people to like it (gotta keep it cool!). I must say that it was quite evident that Catching Fire was an after-thought of Suzanne Collins'. Not only were there an excessive number of new characters, but the lack of originality was just blatant. Like the first film, the love triangle felt forced, as Josh Hutcherson's Peeta stole the show, as far as romanticism is concerned. At this point, I wonder why Gale (played by Liam Hemsworth) was even necessary. Maybe the story would have been more interesting if Katniss (played by Jennifer Lawrence) just didn't like Peeta, regardless of the other men in her life. It would certainly cut down on the unnecessary screen time on Gale's part. I guess not as many ravenous girls would be interested if they only had one guy to obsess over. Also, Gale shouldn't call her "Catnip"! The name Katniss has never been had by anyone, so why do you need to give a nickname to someone with a unique name... That's just a personal rant of mine!
I must say that the acting and the characters were much better in Catching Fire than in the first film. Of course, we all know that Jennifer Lawrence can act, so that's not something worth discussing, but the other performances, discussed below, made the long, drawn out introduction to the actual games a bit more bearable than in the first film.
Thank goodness that Seneca Crane (played by Wes Bentley) was absent from this film. He was one of the worst characters of all 2012 films, and his absence made the film a lot better. The only Catching Fire character that I just could not stand was Lenny Kravitz's Cinna, who is just so, so awkward! Is it just me or does he not come off as a giant perv, who wants him some catnip (if you know what I'm talking about)? Maybe if I had read the books, I would have more of a connection to him, but, as far as the film is concerned, I just think he is a bit of freak.
When watching the first film, I found Stanley Tucci's Caesar Flickerman to be WAAAAY over the top. However, in the last 18 months, I must have become more comfortable with his goofily excited character or something, because I thought he was absolutely brilliant. I honestly think that Tucci is one of the greatest actors alive, and he certainly proved that in Catching Fire. Every moment that he was on screen was just amazing, and, when he wasn't, that mediocrity of the main characters shone oh so bright. Also, I really enjoyed the newfound depth of Elizabeth Banks' Effie, who was much more tolerable than in the first film, and the much more likable gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
In comparison to the first Huger Games film, Catching Fire reigned supreme, in my opinion. It did so not because of its originality or excitement but because of its better performances and more enjoyable minor characters. While the concept of centering the entire film around the games themselves AGAIN may have been lacking in originality, it was still quite dramatic and kept my interest. I assume that Mockingjay will feature a lot more originality, although I'm sure the fact that it has been turned into two films will diminish its drama and excitement. Regardless of what the future may hold for The Hunger Games, I must say that I am intrigued, and I can't wait to see what happened next. Unfortunately, I don't see much Stanley Tucci in my Hunger Games radar, so that could mean it's all downhill from here. We'll see! I give The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 3.45 out of 5 stars.